Ten days after the Hindustan Times exposed the illegal mining of bauxite ore in ecologically sensitive Ratnagiri district in Konkan, the district collector has indicted Mumbai firm, Ashapura Minechem Limited, for violations.
Ratnagiri collector MB Gaikwad confirmed that he had submitted a report to the government but refused to divulge details.
The HT had on January 3 reported how Ashapura Minechem has been mining 10 times more bauxite ore than it was allowed to at a 171-hectare site in Sakhari Velas village although its licence from the state pollution control board had expired in November 2009. The firm has also paid the state less royalty than it was supposed to.
The state government had directed the collector to inspect the site and verify this.
According to sources, the report says the company mined in excess of permissible limits and outside the permitted mining zone. The report also says the company was given notices to curb mining, but it did not. It has blamed the company for ignoring the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) notices on violations of consent conditions.
Gaikwad has issued a notice to the company, asking it to explain all the violations the HT’s reports highlighted. Ashapura Minechem did not respond to telephone calls, emails or text messages.
A source in the state’s mining department said the company was given time until January 10 to explain the violations. “We’ll have to check if they have replied to the notice,” the officer said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “If they haven’t, we will ask the state to take strict action.”